If we could but get a peep at the tally of Dame Fortune, where like a vigilan_andlady she chalks up the debtor and creditor accounts of thoughtles_ortals, we should find that every good is checked off by an evil; and tha_owever we may apparently revel scot-free for a season, the time will com_hen we must ruefully pay off the reckoning. Fortune, in fact, is a pestilen_hrew, and, withal, an inexorable creditor; and though for a time she may b_ll smiles and courtesies, and indulge us in long credits, yet sooner or late_he brings up her arrears with a vengeance, and washes out her scores with ou_ears. "Since," says good old Boethius, "no man can retain her at hi_leasure, what are her favors but sure prognostications of approaching troubl_nd calamity?"
This is the fundamental maxim of that sage school of philosophers, th_roakers, who esteem it true wisdom to doubt and despond when other me_ejoice, well knowing that happiness is at best but transient; that the highe_ne is elevated on the see-saw balance of fortune, the lower must be hi_ubsequent depression; that he who is on the uppermost round of a ladder ha_ost to suffer from a fall, while he who is at the bottom runs very littl_isk of breaking his neck by tumbling to the top.
Philosophical readers of this stamp must have doubtless indulged in disma_orebodings all through the tranquil reign of Walter the Doubter, an_onsidered it what Dutch seamen call a weather-breeder. They will not b_urprised, therefore, that the foul weather which gathered during his day_hould now be rattling from all quarters on the head of William the Testy.
The origin of some of these troubles may be traced quite back to th_iscoveries and annexations of Hans Reinier Oothout, the explorer, and Wynan_en Breeches, the land-measurer, made in the twilight days of Oloffe th_reamer, by which the territories of the Nieuw Nederlandts were carried far t_he south, to Delaware River and parts beyond. The consequence was man_isputes and brawls with the Indians, which now and then reached the drows_ars of Walter the Doubter and his council, like the muttering of distan_hunder from behind the mountains, without, however, disturbing their repose.
It was not till the time of William the Testy that the thunderbolt reached th_anhattoes. While the little governor was diligently protecting his easter_oundaries from the Yankees, word was brought him of the irruption of _agrant colony of Swedes in the South, who had landed on the banks of th_elaware, and displayed the banner of that redoubtable virago Queen Christina,
and taken possession of the country in her name. These had been guided i_heir expedition by one Peter Minuits or Minnewits, a renegade Dutchman,
formerly in the service of their High Mightinesses; but who now declare_imself governor of all the surrounding country, to which was given the nam_f the province of New Sweden.
It is an old saying, that "a little pot is soon hot," which was the case wit_illiam the Testy. Being a little man, he was soon in a passion, and once in _assion he soon boiled over. Summoning his council on the receipt of thi_ews, he belabored the Swedes in the longest speech that had been heard in th_olony since the wordy warfare of Ten Breeches and Tough Breeches. Having thu_aken off the fire-edge of his valor, he resorted to his favorite measure o_roclamation, and despatched a document of the kind, ordering the renegad_innewits and his gang of Swedish vagabonds to leave the country immediately,
under pain of vengeance of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General,
and of the potentates of the Manhattoes.
This strong measure was not a whit more effectual than its predecessors whic_ad been thundered against the Yankees, and William Kieft was preparing t_ollow it up with something still more formidable, when he receive_ntelligence of other invaders on his southern frontier, who had take_ossession of the banks of the Schuylkill, and built a fort there. They wer_epresented as a gigantic, gunpowder race of men, exceedingly expert a_oxing, biting, gouging, and other branches of the rough-and-tumble mode o_arfare, which they had learned from their prototypes and cousins-german th_irginians, to whom they have ever borne considerable resemblance. Like them,
too, they were great roisterers, much given to revel on hoe-cake and bacon,
mint-julep and apple toddy; whence their newly formed colony had alread_cquired the name of Merryland, which, with a slight modification, it retain_o the present day.
In fact, the Merrylanders and their cousins, the Virginians, were represente_o William Kieft as offsets from the same original stock as his bitter enemie_he Yanokie, or Yankee, tribes of the east; having both come over to thi_ountry for the liberty of conscience, or, in other words, to live as the_leased; the Yankees taking to praying and money-making and convertin_uakers, and the Southerners to horse-racing and cock-fighting and breedin_egroes.
Against these new invaders Wilhelmus Kieft immediately despatched a nava_rmament of two sloops and thirty men, under Jan Jansen Alpendam, who wa_rmed to the very teeth with one of the little governor's most powerfu_peeches, written in vigorous Low Dutch.
Admiral Alpendam arrived without accident in the Schuylkill, and came upon th_nemy just as they were engaged in a great "barbecue," a king of festivity o_arouse much practised in Merryland. Opening upon them with the speech o_illiam the Testy, he denounced them as a pack of lazy, canting, julep-
Sabbath-breaking, mulatto-breeding upstarts: and concluded by ordering them t_vacuate the country immediately; to which they laconically replied in plai_nglish, "They'd see him d——d first!"
Now this was a reply on which neither Jan Jansen Alpendam nor Wilhelmus Kief_ad made any calculation. Finding himself, therefore, totally unprepared t_nswer so terrible a rebuff with suitable hostility, the admiral concluded hi_isest course would be to return home and report progress. He accordingl_teered his course back to New Amsterdam, where he arrived safe, havin_ccomplished this hazardous enterprise at small expense of treasure, and n_oss of life. His saving policy gained him the universal appellation of th_avior of his Country, and his services were suitably rewarded by a shingl_onument, erected by subscription on the top of Flattenbarrack Hill, where i_mmortalized his name for three whole years, when it fell to pieces and wa_urnt for firewood.